Legislative Recap 

With the help of supporters like you, we made some progress in protecting and restoring the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature! Here’s a recap of bills our Staff was tracking and working on this legislative session. 


  1. Reducing plastic pollution — We worked with our partners in the Plastic Free Washington coalition on the passage of SHB 1085 Reducing plastic pollution. The soft, film-wrapped polystyrene foam dock floats will now be banned! This will reduce the polystyrene foam pieces and particles found in marine waters! 
    This bill will also reduce plastic waste by phasing out small single-use plastic containers, wrappers and packaging for personal care products in hotels and other lodging establishments and by reducing single-use plastic water bottles—new buildings with water fountains will also be required to provide bottle-filling stations making it easier to use reusable water bottles.  
  1. Protecting and recovering Southern Resident killer whales — We worked with our colleagues at Give Them Space and staff at Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) on the successful passage of ESSB 5371 Protecting southern resident orcas from vessels.  
    We are so grateful for the leadership of Sen. Liz Lovelett, the bill’s prime sponsor, and Rep. Debra Lekanoff, House champion! 
    This bill will implement WDFW’s recommendation to increase the buffer between small vessels and Southern Residents to 1,000 yards to help the whales forage more successfully and feed their young, and support the population’s recovery. 
    This requirement takes effect in 2025. You can help protect the critically endangered Southern Residents today—take the voluntary pledge to keep 1,000 yards away from Southern Residents. 
  1. Protecting marine shoreline habitats —  Multiple bills passed this session that increases our state’s capacity to protect and restore shoreline and marine habitats.

    • The Marine Shoreline Survey bill is critical to understanding the health of Puget Sound shorelines. SB 5104 provides a vital tool for state agencies, tribes, nonprofits, and local jurisdictions in protecting, restoring, and managing shoreline resources by providing regular aerial and on-water imagery and mapping of marine shorelines. Photos and maps will inform restoration and protection actions in support of marine ecosystem recovery. We appreciate the leadership of Senators Salomon, Rolfes, Liias, Nobles, Pedersen, and Stanford, and the efforts of our colleagues at Sound Action, the Seattle Aquarium, Puget Sound Keeper, Washington Audubon, Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership, as well as our members and the public who participated in the legislative process and demonstrated staunch support for the bill throughout the session.  Learn More. 

    • The Derelict Aquatic Structures bill Senate Bill 5433 advanced by the Department of Natural Resources will increase the state’s capacity to remove unwanted and unnecessary structures from tidelands and marine areas, improving habitat and water quality. Learn more.
  1. Waste reduction, providing for responsible environmental management of batteries — SB 5144  will make battery manufacturers responsible for the lifecycle of their products, creating an incentive for them to make batteries that last longer or are easier to recycle. Learn more.
  1. Better planning for climate change —  Friends supported the passage of HB 1181, which requires Washington communities to plan for climate change by including a “Climate Change and Resiliency Element” in all comprehensive plan updates.  All communities must now plan for climate hazards such as wildfires, drought, and sea-level rise. In addition, Washington’s largest counties must adopt plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles miles traveled, including through promoting housing development in areas served by transit systems.  HB 1181 also incorporates environmental justice principles within the Growth Management Act. 

More work needed. 

  1. Unfortunately, ESB 5309, Eliminating the state public utility tax deduction for the instate portion of interstate transport of petroleum products and crude oil, died in committee. Government subsidies for transporting fossil fuels conflict with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change impacts. We hope to be able to support this bill in the next session! 
  1. The WRAP Act, HB 1131 and SB 5154, which would have modernized the state’s recycling system by creating an extended producer responsibility program and bottle bill provisions, did not move forward this year after not being called up for a vote on the House Floor before the deadline. Many thanks to Zero Waste Washington and everyone who supported efforts to get this bill passed. We look forward to helping make it happen next year!  

It wasn’t until 1979 that San Juan County got a comprehensive growth plan and that was largely due to the Friends of the San Juan’s being there to advocate for the shoreline and the ecosystem. Since then, there have been constant waves of pressure by developers. Friends have risen each time, fighting to protect this fragile and precious place.

Liza Michaelson

member, San Juan Island